Wondering what do in Cardiff for a day? Create your Cardiff itinerary that won't cost much!

Wondering what do in Cardiff for a day? Create your Cardiff itinerary that won't cost much!

Located only 2 hours from London via rail or car, Cardiff is the capital city of Wales and the United Kingdom's eleventh largest city. Visited by 18 million tourists per year and known as the 'City of Arcades', it has the biggest concentration of Victorian, Edwardian and modern-day indoor shopping arcades in Britain. With history stretching back to the Roman occupation of Britain, there is plenty to see and do for free in Europe's smallest and newest capital cities.

In this blog post we list:

  • The best places to visit for no charge at all
  • The top rated places to eat on TripAdvisor that won't cost you a lot for a good feed
  • Hotels found under £100 if you decide to stay overnight
  • Show all places on an interactive map to help you locate each place easily
  • Provide an itinerary notes space to write up your planned trip on this page via your computer, tablet or phone
  • And list websites that you could find some local deals or vouchers for this area.

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Cardiff has many options for things to do making the city a popular tourist destination but you don't have to break the bank to access a lot of the activities here. Each of the places mentioned in this blog post are free to enter or are somewhere you can go to spend a few hours in nature taking in the local scenery. Take in a museum like The National Museum of Cardiff or St Fagan's National Museum of History and if you fancy some time outdoors, Roath Park and Bute Park. We recommend you look at the list of places in the table below, read a bit about each place, and then make your decision. Other factors that may affect your decision may be the weather forecast, your mode of transport and what time you have available. Check below for the best things to do in the centre of Cardiff and on the outskirts of town. You can click on each name to be taken straight to that area of the blog post.

Things to do
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    Other Blog Posts From Cardiff

    We write lots of blog posts from each individual area and have a few more from the capital city of Wales. Have a look at our other blog posts by clicking the buttons below:

    Museums and Galleries

    National Museum Cardiff

    Situated in the heart of Cardiff’s elegant civic centre, the museum houses Wales’s national art, geology and natural history collections as well as major touring and temporary exhibitions. With five hundred years of magnificent paintings, drawings, sculpture, silver and ceramics from Wales and across the world, including one of Europe’s best collections of Impressionist art, the art collection at National Museum Cardiff is one of Europe’s finest. Find out how life evolved in Wales and which dinosaurs roamed the land in the 'Evolution of Wales Gallery' which details the story of Wales from evolution to the present day. With temporary exhibitions on throughout the year, check their website to see what's currently on.

    things to do in cardiff for free

    The tower at The Pierhead Building

    The Pierhead Building

    Nicknamed the 'Big Ben of Wales' due to its distinctive clock resembling the Big Ben in London, The Pierhead Building is a magnificent building (red in colour) situated in the Cardiff Bay area of the city. Built in the 18th Century (and now classed as a Grade 1listed building), the original use of the building was as the headquarters of the Bute Dock Company after their original building burnt down. In 2001 The Pierhead Building was reopened as the education and visitor centre of the National Assembly and in March 2010, as an exhibition and historical museum. It is home to a number of films and archives exploring Welsh history and is a great place to spend an hour wandering round looking inside this wonderful piece of architecture.

    Museum of Cardiff

    The Museum of Cardiff situated in the centre of the city is a heritage museum that has brought together a collection of 3,000 objects and Cardiff related artefacts many of which have been donated from Cardiff residents and communities. Also known as the 'Cardiff Story Museum', the museum is perfect to spend an hour or two with the kids learning about Cardiff and its history. With exhibitions on throughout the year, check out their website to see what's currently showing here.

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    History and Culture

    St Fagan's National Museum of History

    Holding the title of Wales’s most popular heritage attraction for many years, the St Fagan's National Museum of History is an open air museum that takes you through the ages exploring the story of Wales. Located in the grounds of the magnificent St Fagan's Castle and gardens, the museum lies in a beautiful setting that will inspire you with its celebration of Welsh traditions and lifestyles. You may have to book your free ticket in advance via their website before attending.

    Walks and Nature Trails

    what to do in cardiff for a day

    The Wales Millenium Centre at Cardiff Bay

    Cardiff Bay

    Cardiff Bay is home to a number of attractions such as Craft at the Bay, Techniquest Science Discovery Centre, The Wales Millenium Centre, The Welsh Assembly at the Pierhead, Butetown History and Arts Centre and the Norwegian Church Arts Centre. The Red Dragon Centre provides further options for family entertainment. The bay offers plenty to keep you occupied all day and all night with eateries, boat trips and attractions available. The bay is also a great place for bird spotting at the Cardiff Bay Wetlands Reserve. The former salt marsh is a breeding area for birds with the reedy marshland and floating timber structures forming the perfect sheltered spots.

    things to do in cardiff central

    Cardiff Bay

    Cardiff Bay Barrage

    Perfect for a relaxing stroll, the 1.1km long Barrage embankment offers spectacular views over Cardiff Bay and the Severn Estuary. Along the Barrage embankment there is a variety of leisure activities including a skate park and an outdoor gym. Thanks to its flat gradient and lack of steps, it’s accessible for all visitors.

    Roath Park

    Opened in 1894, Roath Park was one of the first public parks in Cardiff. It still retains its classic Victorian atmosphere and layout of characterful linear parks, extending along the Nant Fawr stream. The park has many features including the Roath Park Lake (a 30 acre man-made Lake popular for fishing and boating), Llandennis Oval (a site steeped in history with its ancient pond said to be the site of St Isan’s 12th century enclosure) and its beautiful botanic garden.

    Bute Park

    After a full restoration between 2010 and 2014, Bute Park is the 'green heart' of the city and provides a habitat for wildlife, a beautiful and extensive arboretum and is a venue for major public events. The park itself is huge and you can easily spend a whole afternoon walking around taking in the scenery. Bute Park is a Green Flag site and a CADW Grade 1 listed park which is situated behind Cardiff Castle, just a short walk from Cardiff's main streets and civic centre.

    Twmbarlwm Mountain

    Locally known as 'The Twmp', 'The Nipple' or 'The Pimple' due to the shape of the mound that lies at its summit, the Twmbarlwm Mountain (officially a hill due to being under 2000ft tall) is an uphill trek that won't dissapoint. Spend a couple of hours walking this 4km walk to the top of the Iron Age hill fort of Twmbarlwm. From the top there are stunning views over Cardiff Bay to the south and the Brecon Beacons to the north. Start at the Cwmcarn Forest Drive Visitor Centre make your way up the mountain to a height at the top of 900ft.

    Hotel Options

    If you're looking for reasonably priced accommodation in Cardiff, you have plenty of options to choose from. In this section, we'll take a look at some of the best places to stay that are generally available for under £100 per night. We'll also provide information about each place, so that you can make an informed decision about which one may be a good option for you. Check for further information and reviews of each place by clicking on the links below!

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    Hotel Indigo

    • Highly rated hotel
    • Air-conditioned rooms
    • City centre location
    • Fitness centre
    • Free Wifi.


    Rated score from guest reviews on as of June 2022.

    The Royal Hotel

    • Room service available
    • 2 minute walk to The Principality Stadium
    • Good breakfast options
    • Parking on site
    • Free Wifi.


    Rated score from guest reviews on as of June 2022.

    Meal Options

    If you're looking for some tasty food options but not looking to spend too much for the privileges, take a look at our recommended places below. Click on the buttons for information and full menu options etc.


    Morgan's Table

    Morgan's Table is a Captain Henry Morgan-themed cafe, based at Llanrumney Hall Community Trust, which serves delicious dishes such a fish and chips, homemade lasagne, and homemade beef or vegetable chili among many other options.

    The Busy Teapot Café

    Popular café serving a full breakfast for £7.00 to kickstart your day. Plenty of options for lunch also.


    Nant Restaurant

    One of the training restaurants of Coleg y Cymoedd, the Nant Restaurant offers superb food for lunch and dinner. A three course set menu for £14/15 cooked by students at the college offers great value for money. Only open during college term times which you can check here.

    North Star

    A casual, social, food led bar, with all the trimmings!  Bar snacks, burgers, small plates and sandwiches with a banging Sunday Roast!

    The Lazy Leek

    A plant based street food shack run by a small family team offering delicious options for lunch.


    Calabrisella Canton

    Italian restaurant offering plenty of options for lunch and dinner. Highly rated on TripAdvisor.

    The Hellenic Eatery

    A cosy modern Greek restaurant well known in Cardiff for the quality of their food. Parking may be difficult to find outside but free options available.

    Chai Street

    Bringing Indian street food to the city, Chai Street brings over 12 years experience bringing authentic Indian food at a reasonable price.

    Don't Miss Great Deals!

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    Map and Itinerary Notes

    Use the map below to locate all the best things to do in Cardiff that will fit within your budget mentioned above, to create your itinerary for your trip. The notes section is an area for you to type your itinerary into your computer, phone or tablet. If typing on your phone, screenshot the image and save to your photos to relate back to.

    Open Google Maps to see distance information between locations and directions on how to get to each place.

    Itinerary Notes

    Check above for the best places to visit in Cardiff for free and create your itinerary in the box below. If using your phone, screenshot the image and save to your photos for a quick reference whilst on your trip.

    Places for Local Deals/Vouchers

    We source the best places to go for a day trip on minimal cost but there's also websites/apps you can download to give you some deals/discounts on restaurants, entry fees and tickets. Below is some of the best ones for this area.

    • Groupon

    • Wowcher

    • Tastecard

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